INDUSTRY NEWS DECEMBER 2015
October – November 2015 have seen changes across almost all visa categories. The government announced new changes to the Immigration Rules, the Home Office published amended guidelines and clarified a few points which had previously caused some confusion among applicants. Most of these changes will affect applications submitted on or after 19 November 2015:
TIER 1 (INVESTOR)
The Tier 1 (Investor) visa category is for high net worth individuals making a substantial financial investment in the UK. The minimum amount of investment an applicant has to make in this category is £1 million if the application for initial leave was submitted before 6 November 2014 and £2 million for initial applications made on or after 6 November 2014. Those applicants who applied in this category before 6 November 2014, will have to show that they have invested not less than £750,000 in the UK by way of UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies when extending their leave to remain. The remaining balance of the required £1 million can be spent to purchase assets, for example, your new home in the UK. It has been clarified, that when property is used as evidence for balance of funds, it must be owned jointly with the spouse or partner of applicant. It has also been clarified that investment by way of share or loan capital in investment syndicate companies, as well as in the UK registered companies principally engaged in property investment, are not acceptable as the evidence of the required investment.
TIER 1 (INVESTOR) & TIER 1 (ENTREPRENEUR)
From 1 September 2015, those who apply for Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur visas will need to provide criminal record certificates from any country they have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.
TIER 2 (GENERAL) – NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN
Tier 2 of the Points-Based System caters for migrant workers with an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer. To qualify for indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, apart from spending a continuous period of 5 years in the UK, an applicant must now show, that:
- His or her salary is at least £35,000 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2016. The required level of salary will rise each year in line with wage inflation. If you have obtained your Tier 2 (General) leave in 2015, you need to remember that in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in 5 years’ time (2020), you will need to show that your salary is at least £36,200 at the time of you application. This change will not affect you if your Certificate of Sponsorship was issued before 6 April 2011 or if your job appears on the Shortage Occupation List.
- The Sponsor that issued the Certificate of Sponsorship that led to the applicant’s last grant of leave still holds a Tier 2 Sponsor licence in the relevant category, or have an application for a renewal of such a licence currently under consideration by the Home Office.
Other changes include:
- Addition of 4 jobs to the Shortage Occupation List in the digital technology sector (product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security specialist). The additions relate specifically to jobs offered by small and medium-sized qualifying companies (between 20 – 250 employees), requiring five or more years’ relevant work experience.
- Tier 2 Migrants may not be absent from work without pay for 4 weeks or more in total during any calendar year instead of previously set limit of 30 days.
TIER 4 (GENERAL) & TIER 4 (CHILD)
Tier 4 (General) student is the visa category for students coming to the UK for post-16 education. Children between 4 and 17 years old coming to the UK for their education have to apply for the Tier 4 (Child) visa. Apart from providing confirmation that you have been offered a place on a course in the UK and have money to pay for your studies, since 12 November 2015, all students applying for either Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) have to show that they have an increased amount of money for their maintenance in the UK for up to 9 months. If you are planning on studying in London, the amount of maintenance you would need to show now amounts to £11,385 (£1,265 for each month). If you will be studying elsewhere in the UK, the amount of maintenance available should be at least £9,135 (£1,015 for each month). You can use money held in an account owned by either you or your parents.
REPRESENTATIVE OF AN OVERSEAS BUSINESS
The Representative of an Overseas Business category allows businesses with no presence in the UK to send their employees to the country to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, or for overseas media organisations to send employees to the UK on long-term assignments. It has been clarified, that applicants relying on an approved English language test at level A1 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning are only required to pass the speaking and listening components, excluding the reading and writing elements of the exam.
REQUIREMENT TO OBTAIN A PERMANENT RESIDENCE CARD
Providing that an EEA national or non-EEA national is in the UK with a right of permanent residence, he or she must hold a valid document which confirms their right to permanent residence. Applicants who apply for naturalisation must now submit with their application a document certifying their permanent residence or a permanent residence card issued by the Home Office. Previously, EU citizens were not required to have such a document when applying for naturalisation.
CHANGES TO ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEST REQUIREMENTS
From 12th November 2015, applicants for limited leave to remain, settlement or citizenship will need to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at a SELT test centre: Trinity College London for UK applicants, and IELTS SELT Consortium for both the UK and the rest of the world. The certificates which have been obtained from other service providers are no longer accepted as a proof of the English language knowledge. The change mainly concerns applicants who currently seek to obtain an initial leave to enter. If you have already satisfied the requirement to have the sufficient knowledge of the English language as part of your previous visa application, you might not have to demonstrate it again.
CHANGES TO VISITORS VISA
It has been clarified, that visitors are permitted to undertake a maximum of 30 days study and 30 days volunteering provided that the main purpose of their visit to the UK is another visitor permitted activity – for instance a holiday or business meetings. Persons who want to come to the UK to study for up to 6 months can apply to do so as a short-term student.